Friday, November 24, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Readying ourselves for a busy weekend, riot wise.

APPO has announced a big march for tomorrow on the downtown. APPO says it will ring the PFP with a human fence for either 24 or 48 hours, depending on which APPOite is doing the bragging. Now this is a far cry from APPO's boast of two weeks ago when the organization promised to "besiege the PFP with an unarmed human fence" which was to remain in place, 24/7, until the PFP left Oaxaca and Governor Ruiz Ortiz resigned. That must have been canceled due to inclement weather because it never happened.

To give you an idea of just how sick everyone in the capitol city is of APPO, the rioters must import their marchers. APPO brags that marchers "from villages far away from Oaxaca will arrive in caravans to participate." What APPO is inadvertantly saying here is that they can't get enough local thugs to participate in anything other than smashing a few flower pots and terrorizing a few hotel guests.

Meanwhile, the PFP is gearing up to be ready. They've been slowly and inexorably removing barricades on a street by street basis for two weeks. They have been hauling away burned out cars, trucks, buses, piles of rock and concrete, wire, cable and barbed wire as well as stolen construction materials. They have been steadily enlarging the area under their control.

Suddenly, this afternoon, they began sending out 2 and 3 vehicle convoys to patrol parts of the city. The vehicles are all pickups with 8 to 10 men inside, some armed, most not. All are wearing helmets and flak jackets. Most of the vehicles being used are Oaxaca state police vehicles, not PFP vehicles. They also began pulling in some of their outlying pickets along with all of their equipment. They began pulling back and consolidating their anti-riot equipment closer to the Zócalo.

Worried people downtown began asking them if they were pulling out. The PFP replied that this was a "normal duty rotation". The PFP denied that APPO's latest threats had any bearing on their maneuvers. I doubt the 100% veracity of that statement. A PFP commander said that they were pulling some men into the Zócalo from outlying pickets to avoid "enfriarlos" (freezing their butts off).

To further heighten tensions, some moron in a big Suburban smacked into a little Peugeot right in front of a PFP line on García Vigil about 4:30 this afternoon, actually injuring 4 PFP officers as well as 3 students in the little car. The Suburban driver was "agredido" (roughed up) by angry PFP officers. A Reuters photographer who refused to stop taking pictures of the scene was also "agredido".

I don't understand all the problems these a**holes have with the PFP. I've been downtown on several occasions and I treat them for what they are; a military force in place to hold territory and assure the safety of all who pass through their territory. A military force that is lightly armed and, even at that, is not allowed to use those arms in their own defense during the frequent confrontations with mobs throwing gasoline bombs at them, firing rockets at their belt buckles and hurling bricks and boulders. I ask permission to take photos of them and have only been refused once. I smile, I speak and I stop to chat. I wear my Canada hat. I disguise my voice like either Rocky or Bullwinkle . . . depending.

People who think that they can waltz around here like nothing at all is out of place and they can behave just as they did in 1996 or 1936 just boggle my mind. Even the fruitcake governor announced a couple of days ago that "Oaxaca has returned to normal." I was rendered temporarily deaf and unable to think clearly for about an hour after that one because of the thunderous roar of derisive hoots from the entire populace. Have you ever heard 300,000 people derisively hoot simultaneously? It's thunderous.

APPO also pledges to take over the toll booths on the main highway to Puebla. I might get in on that. What APPO does is they throw out the toll takers, reduce the tariff by 50% and pocket it all. A nice Saturday's income, if I do say so myself. All I have to do is get myself a ski mask, pull on my cleanest dirty shirt, show up at the toll booth and spit out a constant stream of Spanish language epithets: "Hay, cabrón!." "Oye, pinche buey." "No me digas, pendejo." (translation not provided - you'll have to look those up yourself) It would also be immensely helpful if I took along a can of Dupont Krylon and painted some grafitti while misspelliing every other word.

We're going to have an interesting weekend, that's for sure.

People keep writing me for advice on whether or not to visit Oaxaca. I tell them that the US Department of State suggests that they stay the hell away and I believe that to be sound advice.

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